Oct 092006
Authors: Nick Hemenway

There is now only one month left until we all step into the voting booths and elect the next congress into power. It’s those five minutes that millions of dollars have been spent on, trying to get you to vote for someone specific.

Candidates and their respective parties have been bombarding us with propaganda, but the only thing that matters is whose name you put the check mark next to in that little booth.

With the exception of Connecticut, just about every race will come down to a decision between a Democrat and Republican candidate. Each standing for their own beliefs, the choice is clear – or is it?

These days, it seems to me that, when it comes to the months leading up to an election, candidates from both sides of the aisle tend to sound very similar. But how can this be when many say our country is the most polarized it has ever been? I believe this is the result of Republicans winning three even-year elections in a row.

Since 2000, our country has given power to the Republican Party. Then, as we all know, our world changed with the 9/11 attacks.

We had to change the way we viewed the world. The country believed that Republicans would meet this challenge better than Democrats – a trend that is still true to this day, as seen in countless polls. As we progressed in the war on terror and our economy rebounded, I think it became more and more evident to Americans that Republicans were best suited to lead our government forward.

Fast forward to today. Democrats know that the Republicans have the stances on the issues that Americans seek. Now they want their slice of that pie. When the campaign season comes around, they seem to temporarily conform to GOP beliefs.

Don’t believe me?

Think back to 2004 in the race between Pete Coors and Ken Salazar to be Colorado’s second U.S. senator. Knowing that Colorado was a red state at the time, Salazar ran on a very moderate platform. He put himself up as the everyday Coloradan who would represent the ideals prevalent in Colorado.

As we all know, he won that race. But then he showed his true colors. In the two years he has been in the senate, he has voted more like a Kennedy than the moderate he claimed to be. He has stood in the way of meaningful immigration legislation, energy reform and domestic security issues, among other issues.

This is what I fear is happening right here in the fourth district race between Angie Paccione and Marilyn Musgrave. Musgrave has been in congress for four years now. The people of the fourth district support her stances on the issues and her actions in Congress, as evidenced by her re-election in 2004.

If you look at her voting record, it is very clear what she stands for, regardless of what her opponent says.

Then there is Angie Paccione. In her campaigning up to now, she hasn’t taken any hard stances on the tough issues. Sure she can be secure in declaring her support for better education, but who doesn’t support that?

Take a look for yourself.

First, look at Congresswoman Musgrave’s Web site. Her views are clearly stated with evidence of her following through. Then look at Angie Paccione’s Web site.

The page that lists out her stances on the issues is a page of generalizations and vague promises. The word Iraq doesn’t appear at all. If you notice, her stated views are not far off from what you’d expect from a Republican.

If I didn’t know Paccione was a Democrat, there would only be one single sentence among her views that would lead me to believe she isn’t a Republican – “I oppose the radical attempts to privatize Social Security.”

That’s it.

So how are we supposed to know the difference between the candidates? That’s a tough question. My only suggestion would be to look at their track records. Look at which candidates are not afraid to voice opinion. Look at what each person has voted for, and look at which groups support each candidate.

So let’s be careful next month, so we don’t make the same mistake of voting into office someone who is pretending to be someone that they are not.

Nick Hemenway is a senior mechanical engineering major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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